Joint Zambia, Zimbabwe conservation team tours border region
Harare (New Ziana) – A joint top-level environment, tourism and conservation team from Zimbabwe and Zambia toured the border lower Zambezi area on Saturday, a week after the two countries struck an agreement to join efforts in managing the diverse natural resources of the region.
The area, which marks the border between the two countries, is rich in natural resources such as wildlife, water, fish, timber and flora and fauna, and offer enormous economic opportunities to both.
On Friday last week, the two countries signed the Lower Zambezi Mana Pools Trans-frontier Conservation Area (LOZAMAP TFCA), under which wildlife and conservation agencies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, in partnership with specialised international agencies, will join hands to manage the natural resources of the region, including undertaking various conservation projects.
The LOZAMAP TFCA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry, Nqobizita Mangaliso Ndlovu, and Zambian Minister of Tourism, Rodney Sikumba, in Harare.
“By signing the MoU, we are committing our two Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States to the processes of implementing the SADC Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement of 1999,” Ndlovu said at the signing ceremony.
The trans-frontier conservation area measures approximately 17,745 square kilometers, housing the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, Mana Pools National Park, and surrounding Safari Areas in Zimbabwe, including game management areas, safari areas, communal land, private land, and conservancies.
During the LOZAMAP TFCA tour, the high-level delegation from Zimbabwe and Zambia had an appreciation of the refurbished Marongora Vehicle Workshop, the Zambezi River Specialized Anti-Poaching Unit (ZARSAU) D Camp, the Zambezi Valley Reaction Unit, and Mana Pools National Park.
Speaking during the tour at D Camp, Charles Mweshi, Zambia’s director of planning and information in the Ministry of Tourism, commended Zimbabwe for its commitment to conservation, as evidenced by its agreement to sign the LOZAMAP TFCA MOU.
“The tour has been very successful from the signing of the MOU, we have seen that the Zimbabwean team put a lot of effort in planning this activity,” Mweshi said.
The LOZAMAP TFCA tour provided a platform for Zimbabwean and Zambian officials to discuss some of the challenges faced in wildlife and biodiversity conservation, with solutions put forward for the two countries to consider during the LOZAMAP TFCA agreement implementation stage.
Zim Parks Mid Zambezi Valley regional manager, Felix Chimeramombe noted that the LOZAMAP TFCA initiative will not only focus on biodiversity conservation, as it is an opportunity for Zimbabwe and Zambia to improve tourism marketing in the landscape.
“From the interaction we had, we got a number of lessons, the regional commander shared with us that there is migration of elephants between the two borders, on the Zimbabwean side, we are seized with a matter whereby we have marked a decline in our elephant populations, but we cannot see the carcasses and the causative factors to the decline. That is another opportunity whereby we are now saying we need to collaborate closely in research and monitoring even on the surveys that we do to take stock of our animal populations,” he said.
African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), one international agency heavily involved in conservation in the area, said much focus under the deal struck by the two countries should be on combating wildlife poaching.
Its Zimbabwe branch has been working with ZimParks on this and other conservation issues for years, and believes the country is fully geared to fulfill its part of the LOZAMAP TFCA bargain.
“We believe that AWF Zimbabwe has already contributed towards preparatory measures that will aid the government of Zimbabwe through Zim Parks to implement the LOZAMAP TFCA agreement, activities such as the cross-border collaborations on anti-poaching will be instrumental during implementation stage,” Olivia Mufute, AWF country director, said.